Ever get tired of trying to scrub that ‘white’ (it started life as white, anyway) acrylic or fiberglass shower base? Ever try to take one out? It’s stuck, isn’t it? Ever get tired of rhetorical questions?
In order to create a shower floor for tile you must first remove that big, ugly base which seemingly attracts dirt from some unknown aspect of the magnetic force of the universe. It’s not really the magnetic force – it just feels like it. It’s actually the rubber force – as in the rubber gasket around the drain pipe.
Rather than attempting to pry the base out of there until you’re almost ready to fire up the propane torch and see if it will actually melt (it will), you can simply pry the ring from around the drain pipe and lift it out. Really.
This, of course, is assuming you have already removed the screws or fasteners attaching the flange to the studs. Almost all pre-formed shower pans have a vertical flange, about 1″ high, around the perimeter which may or may not be visible without removing the wall substrate. There is normally one or two screws or nails directly above or through this flange on each wall which hold it to the studs. You need to remove these first.
I’m assuming this because if you are trying to pry your shower base up and have not removed the perimeter screws first – you should probably request some assistance from someone. Just sayin’…
This is gonna be quick and easy. Just grab your 5-in-1 tool (don’t have one? Why not – everyone should have one! If you signed up for TileTips you’d already know that) or a screwdriver or something similar. Anything pointy will work. (Did I just type ‘pointy’??? I need a beer…)
Remove your drain cover – it’s likely just a plastic
piece of crap cover over your drain pipe like in photo 1.
You should see a big rubber gasket around your drain pipe (the 2 inch pipe in the middle) and your shower base. It’s the big black ring in photo 2.
Just stick your pointy tool (that totally didn’t sound right) between the gasket and the shower base. NOT between the gasket and drain pipe – you may damage the drain pipe.
Then pry it up. It’ll only come up a little bit at a time. You need to work your way around the perimeter of the gasket a little at a time staying between the gasket and base.
Photo’s 3 – 6 show working around the drain gradually prying it up a bit at a time.
Once you work the entire gasket out you’ll feel the final portion of it break the seal. That’s the best way I can describe it – you’ll simply feel when it no longer is sealed between the pipe and base.
When it does that you can simply grab it and lift it out. That’s it. That little three inch thick gasket was driving you crazy. Once it’s out the base will nearly levitate out of there.
Okay, it won’t levitate – but you can simply lift it up out of there and build a real shower floor.
One that can be cleaned without a sandblaster.
Speaking of removing outdated and worn chunks of fiberglass and acrylic resin, I learned the easy way (yes, a little caution up front helped me avoid a hard lesson) that taking a reciprocating saw to an acrylic shower surround could be a really bad idea, ‘specially if you can’t see everything that’s behind it.
The original builder had used the dead space between the swoopy shower surround and the boringly rectangular walls behind as a chase for dang near everything. Supply pipes. Vent pipes. Romex. The romex was a real treat since it wasn’t connected to anything, just dangling, and energized to boot. Whoever did that took the precaution of spreading the bare ends of the wires so they wouldn’t touch. Nice, huh? Then there was the return duct for the furnace. No tin to separate the return from this void. Which after the sloppily stapled insulation batts fell in, was open to the attic. I needed a beer. Several in fact. Pepsi just wasn’t going to cut it.
Speaking of cutting it, my Rotozip was the answer. Got the bits with cutting edges all the way to the tip, set it stick maybe a quarter inch through the surround, and I got witness all of this residential spec house grandeur as it was installed, rather than, say, spraying water all over a seeing exactly how good the double insulation on the reciprocating saw was.
By the way, great stuff here. Written by someone who knows the trade rather than a marketing hack and edited by a lawyerly type to remove any vaguely useful information.
Just…wow! Glad you ripped that out, sounds like that was a disaster waiting to happen.
Thanks, you helped me figure this out cause I had no idea where to start. I installed the shower base 22 years ago so I kinda forgot how it went together.
I had a plumber come out the other day to look at taking out the floor tile, drain and shower pan in our shower that is about 6×4 in size. He told me that it would take him about 8 hours to remove all of the above. It seems like a crazy amount of time to rip something out. I would love to hear your thoughts!
It really depends on how your present floor is constructed. I’ve had showers half that size that have taken me twice as long. If you’re unhappy with that call another plumber and get a second proposal.
Can the shower pan be removed without removing the tiled walls? I understand that we might have to remove some lower tile but can the rest be left going up to the ceiling.
Yes it can. Depending on how far up your waterproofing liner is, or needs to go, will dictate how much tile you need to remove from the perimeter at the bottom.
Could you tell me where I can find a exact replacement gasket like the one in your pictures? I’ve looked high and low and no one has it. Home Depot had one that I thought would work and it was too big, then I had to special order one and it was too small! Please help!
Find the manufacturer of your particular shower base and give them a call. They are not universal, they are specific to each brand.
This is the first post on Goolge to come up when searching “how to remove old shower”. It had the little excerpt from the site right in line with the search results and after reading decided you must have the answer.
Thankfully my remodel was planned and if need be I can get a new drain, I just wanted to share my experience. For starters, I didn’t have a proper shower surround to remove, it was one of those cheap ass freestanding stalls you can get at Menards. Buddy lemme tell ya, this sucker was a nightmare. I had to destroy plastic to get to the gasket, then of course the gasket came right out. I then found (after breaking apart the floor with a pry bar) that there was a lead gasket and another plastic mount. I won’t even go into replacing the valves that were at least 50 years old.
Suffice it to say, you pointed me in the right direction. So thanks!
I love your posts, they’re so helpful!
Today I followed your instructions to remove my shower pan and unfortunately the pan still won’t come out.
The pan is not attached to the studs, and I removed the gasket from the drain. I can easily lift the edges from the floor. Any ideas about what might be holding the pan in place? It’s definitely the drain area that’s the issue.
Once you remove that gasket the 2″ pipe should sit loosely in the drain hole, you should be able to grab it and move it around. If you can’t then it is attached in some additional manner beneath the pan. If that’s the case then you can use an inside pipe cutter to cut it lower down into the pipe. If it does move around then it’s some sort of mortar or glue used on the pan itself to bond the pan to the substrate, in which case you can just pry the hell out of it. If you’re getting rid of the pan you can also take a hammer or reciprocating saw to it to remove it in pieces.
Thanks Roger – what is the ‘it’ you’re referring to? The pipe?
Sorry, I meant the pan. If the pipe is attached in some strange manner to the pan itself you can just bust the pan up or pry it up.
Thanks! I got it – there was another thin gasket around the pipe.
we just install a new frameless shower enclosure and realized the frosted shower door is not what we want , how do we remove the door without breaking the shower pan ? thanks for your advise.
I imagine completely opposite of how you installed it. Why would you break the shower pan?
Love your site, been reading a lot lately. Unfortunately I found your site a bit late and used youtube for information to remove my old fiberglass shower pan. I used a drill to get rid of the rubber gasket and ended up nicking parts of the drain pipe. Does this need to be repaired? If so how would you personally repair it? Here is a link to a photo of the damage:
Yes, it should be repaired. I would cut the pipe down as low as I could, then add a new coupling and pipe for your drain.
Thank you, will let you know how it worked out. Thanks
Replacing me new shower base but the dfrin pipe is too short , any advice pleasE?
Get a coupler and add more pipe to it. You may need to cut the existing pipe even further back to allow for the height of the coupler, but you can then stub up any size you need.
Hello smart ass.
I was searching for a LEAD shower pan drain removal topic. I clicke on a Channel 4 post. LOL It was showing exactly what i needed to do then BAM! They show a brand new pan installed already. WTF!? Why not post the hard part too?
I just read an article you posted. I know how to do it NOW……!
Do you think you could post a “How To” about LEAD not the rubber? Just sayin’. I good now but, I think a single post titled ” How to remove an old lead shower drain” would be great for YOU.
I saw a post by someone on your site that actually gave me the answer. BUT……..It was on your site so. I’ll Be Back!
Hello GWR64 (if that IS your real name ),
I’ve only taken out two (not many around these parts) and both were a complete pain in the ass. Not sure I could actually instruct anyone on the best way to do it since I sure as hell haven’t figured it out yet.
Is there another thread that discusses removing an old lead shower drain?
No there is not. Is it just the drain (just cut it off at the most convenient spot downline and transition to the new stuff) or the entire pan (pry and fold, pry and fold…repeat)?
I took some ideas from this thread and twisted them to my will…..i used a tiny chisel to xig a small hole in the lead and the turned the chisel sideways and started chipping out pieces slowly all around…hope it works as easy for you as it did for me..like a 5 min process
I am replacing a shower that was built in 1970 and cause mold damage & an unplanned remodel. I was excited to see this topic because I can’t get the old drain out. A contractor person cut around the drain & too the shower pan out so that I could at least get the old tiles & stuff off the walls. My drain doesn’t look like the one in your picture. There is a silver ring that is stuck on after removing the grate. Inside the ring is what seems to be putty/caulk of some sort, but there is also metall–I can’t quite figure out what exactly it is. Does it seem reasonable to try drilling holes in it like the previous poster did? I don’t want to damage the pipe. Should the pipe be smooth–nothing that I will need to twist off?
I’m learning so much from your website! I’ve got to buy one or more of your books–I’m planning to do a fiberglass shower base because it seems easier, liquid waterproofing. Kerdi-boards sound great, but way beyond my budget. Thank you for all the great info!!
You have a lead collar around your drain. It would have been placed there then melted into place to seal the transition. You can drill through it fairly easily. Just be aware, it is still metal and it will make your drill jump around if you’re not paying attention. Your drain should be cast iron, though, so just drill around the perimeter of it and you’ll be fine, it’s almost impossible to accidentally drill through cast iron.
So, i was looking around for a suitable “pointy thing”
to pry out the rubber ring around the shower drain and it occurred to me… Why not drill-out the rubber gasket? I thought that if I could get a section out, then I could pull mightily with some needle-nose pliers. I inserted my drill bit (~1/4″) in the drill and applied drilling pressure to the surface of the ring. The bit fell into the gap around the outside of the ring, at the shower tray, and walked around it and lifted the ring out using the grooves in the bit!! Voila! I was careful not to damage the drain pipe, but this proved to be freakin’ magic.
Excellent solution! Never thought of that – thank you!